If yesterday's matchup of Lake Clifton and Southwestern was a possible preview of the city championship game, maybe the game shouldn't be played.
Blown leads, missed free throws and bad passing turned the matchup of top 10-teams into a bizarre example of bad basketball.
In overtime, the No. 6-ranked Sabers were finally able to take a game that neither team appeared to want, beating the No. 2 Lakers, 69-67, in a Baltimore City non-league contest.
Robert Gray led Southwestern (2-0) with 19 points, and Cornelius McMurray added 18. Kevin Braswell led Lake Clifton (1-1), ranked No. 14 nationally by USA Today, with 28 points and Michael King scored 25.
Deon Smith broke a 67-67 deadlock with two free throws with 14.1 seconds remaining in overtime for Southwestern. Lake Clifton inbounded the ball, and Eric Evans drove the lane, putting up a shot that missed off the rim. After a battle for the ball, the Lakers got two more opportunities to put the ball back in, but failed as time expired.
"We came up big in the clutch," said McMurray, who was 8-for-8 in free throws in the final period and overtime. "We were pressing a little, and it took a toll on us. We started back in a 1-2-2 zone and were able to pick things back up."
The Sabers led by as many as 17 points in the first half, and had a 46-35 cushion in the third quarter, but couldn't stand prosperity.
From that point, Southwestern missed 11 of its next 12 shots from the field and turned the ball over six times. With 2: 22 left in regulation, Lake Clifton had the lead, 56-52, after back-to-back three-pointers from Braswell and King.
Gray came back with a three-pointer for Southwestern, cutting the lead down to one. Lake Clifton then gave the momentum back to the Sabers, missing three of four free throws, and Southwestern went on a 6-1 run to gain a 61-57 lead with 22.2 seconds left.
An Evans layup and King's two free throws after an intentional foul tied the game with 2.4 seconds left. Lake Clifton then got the ball under its basket with a chance to win in regulation. Damon Spells inbounded to King, who stepped out of bounds, forcing overtime.
"This is upsetting," said Lake Clifton coach Charlie Moore, whose team beat No. 9-ranked Southern-B by 35 last week. "We dig a hole, then almost come out of it, then we don't execute. We missed free throws and layups. This wasn't an effort of a team that is supposed to be nationally ranked."
Pub Date: 12/11/96